Child support is a right of children. Both parents are obligated to provide a standard of living that offers an opportunity for their child’s growth and development. It follows naturally that if one parent bears the burden of caring for a child, the other parent makes periodic support payments, or child support, to fulfill their obligation. It can be appropriate to ask a court to modify your obligation if there is a “change in circumstance” for you or your former spouse.
What Is A “Change In Circumstance”
Child support in California is determined by a complex formula that takes into account a number of financial factors and time spent with the child. It seeks to create a minimum standard for the child’s care and development. One or both parents may ask for the amount to be modified due to a change in circumstances.
These changes could be any number of things. A few examples include the loss of a job, one spouse spending more or less time with the child than planned, the child creates greater expenses like joining a sport, or an ex-spouse remarries. Either or both parents can ask the court to modify the child support order to account for a new balance of time or money.
The only time a change in circumstance need not be shown is when two parents have an agreement for child support that is below the state’s calculated amount. One parent can ask for the child support to be modified with no change in circumstance needing to be shown.
When To Modify Your Child Support Payments
Once a judge signs a child support order, one or both parents may ask for modification. Parents can also modify child support by agreement. It is important to note that a modification to child support is only complete with a judge’s signature. An agreement between you and your former spouse is not sufficient, so do not adjust your payments until the judge signs your agreement. If an agreement cannot be reached, the court will make its own calculation.
Child support payments are not retroactive to the change in your circumstances. This means that when you experience a change in circumstance to your detriment, like a job loss, you should ask the court to modify your child support as soon as possible. Any over-payments cannot be reimbursed back to the date of the job loss; it can only go back to the date you filed your request for modification with the court.
It is important to note that when you ask the court to modify your child support payments, the entire calculation is done. For example, you experience a reduction in hours at work, therefore, a reduction in wages, so you ask the court for a modification. The child has started a new, expensive sport, like hockey, and the ex-spouse has had a job change that has lowered their income.
You could actually owe more child support. It may be in your interest to offer to spend more time with the child and relieve the support obligation or forgo the modification request entirely.
Contact An Experienced Torrance California Child Support Attorney Today
If you think a modification of your child support obligations is warranted, contact Bruce A. Mandel for a free consultation. You can also check us out on Facebook. Bruce A. Mandel knows the process for filing a modification of child support, if you should file, and what you can expect.